Tightening belts: Luxuries wait for month end

2013-05-19 10:00

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Rising food costs are the reason Venesha Sukai has reduced her trips to the grocery store.

Venesha, a housewife from Phoenix, outside Durban, used to think being a minute’s drive from a local Spar was a blessing.

She used to go every other day, but now goes once every second week.

Venesha’s husband, Ishen, works in the engineering unit of the eThekwini municipality.

To make her budget stretch, the hands-on mother of three shops only for necessities, leaving luxuries for the end of the month and only if there is money left over.

“Previously, you walked into the store and would go from aisle to aisle buying things you don’t need. I now only go to the shop when something runs out. I buy and run out of there. I have had to be very disciplined,” she says.

She spends about R4?000 on food every month, about 20% of their overall income.

Ishen says: “Previously, we bought fancy cereals like the chocolate-coated ones for the children. But we have cut down on all of that and the chips, biscuits and fancy juice. We now look for more economical alternatives.”

They make the cuts as a family, Ishen says.

“I juggle things around to make the ends meet. But I think it comes with understanding children. We sit them down and speak openly when there is a need to tighten the belt.”

Restaurant visits to Spur and John Dory have been replaced with takeout once or twice a month.

Trips to the movies are now special treats.

Their “power shopping” entails searching for specials before visiting their local supermarkets.

“We don’t buy fresh fish any more. We paid between R800 to R900 for one steenbras. We now go to Oxford and get a 5kg case of frozen hake for R110,” says Ishen.

There’s also less red meat and more chicken on the menu – they buy directly from Rainbow Chicken once a month.

Lunchbox menus have also been overhauled. Packets of chips are bought in bulk, and prepared fish cakes and fish fingers have given way to Venesha’s home-made cookies and pastries.

The family’s bulldogs no longer eat prescription dog food bought from the vet.

They’re on a brand bought from a factory shop, and home-made fare.

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